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Heat Cable Installation: How to Do It Yourself

Heat Cable Installation: How to Do It Yourself

What are Heat Cables & Why Do You Need Them?

Heat cables, or heat tapes, are electrical materials often used in the winter to generate heat that melts snow and ice formed on the roof, allowing it to escape instead of backing up into the house or forming heavy icicles on the eaves.

Usually attached to the roof, heat cables are safe for downspouts and gutters made of metal, plastic, or wood, and they will not overheat even when overlapped.

If you live in an area that experiences intense winter, there are several reasons you should install heat cables. Let us take a look at two of them.

Heat cables help prevent ice dams.

 Warm air from the attic can seep through the roof and melt a layer of snow, which then causes drips to fall from the roof. Since the eaves above the roof overhang do not receive warm air from the attic, the droplets that reach the roof's edge refreeze and form beautiful but dangerous icicles, and f not dealt with quickly, this can pose a real threat to your gutters, home, and family.

To prevent this condition, installing heat cables is the way to go since they will generate heat, allowing the ice to melt from the roof instead of continuing to form and cause hazards.

Heat cables help prevent water damage. 

When the heat from the attic warms the roof and melts the ice, the meltwater will most likely have nowhere to go because icicles or ice dams have blocked the pathways on the eaves. In this case, there is only one place to go– inside the house. This, of course, can lead to flooding, warped floors, chipped paint, sagging ceilings, soaked insulation, electrical problems, and damage to the content of the home. Installing heat cables, on the other hand, will help keep the ice melting and the water running off the roof, avoiding all these problems.

DIY Heating Cable Installation In 5 Steps

measuring for heat cable installation

Webfoot professionally installs commercial-grade heat cables that we recommend. If you’re interested in installing consumer-grade heat cables on your own, here is the step-by-step process:

Step One: Remove your old cable (optional)

Remove any non-functioning heat cables from your roof if there are any, being careful not to pull on the clips and bend the shingles in the process.

Step Two: Determine how much cable you need

Look at the areas of your roof where you want the heat cables to go, such as the walkway, and determine how much cable you will need for this installation.

You can also use an online calculator to figure out how much heat cable you'll need to cover the parts of your roof and gutters prone to ice dams, as well as the number of roof clips and downspouts hangers you'll need. Please note that proper measurement will go a long way in helping you know exactly how much heat cable is needed for a successful installation.

Step Three: Find a power source and design a cable route

Look for suitable power sources within your home to plan your cable route. If the power source is near the ground, consider running the cable up either the downspout or the sidewall. In the latter case, you can use commercial wire clips from the hardware store to neatly secure the cable to the wall.

Step Four: Mark and set your clips

Before you attach your heating cable clips, mark where you want them to go. Never pierce your roof with nails, screws, staples, or other tools. Alternatively, attach the clips behind the shingles and secure them with adhesive.

Step Five: Lay the heating cables

Stretch out the cable in the yard to remove any twists. This will make your installation go much more smoothly. Run the heat cable from clip to clip, pulling the cable just tight enough to create a neat, tidy pattern on the roof. Clamp the cable into the "cradle" of the heat cable clamp. Tightening the cable between the clips will stress the system unnecessarily, so don’t do it. Route the gaps in different positions to ensure that your cable does not come into contact with itself, which could cause shortages. Note that the cable should be laid in a zig-zag pattern along any eaves you want to protect from ice dams. If you have gutters, the cables should be routed inside the gutters to help water drain away.

Benefits of choosing a professional

Many people believe that heating cables do not work, usually, because they buy cheap, low-quality cables and perhaps install them wrong. For the best and most durable results, it pays to have your heat cables installed by a professional so you do not have to worry about them for several years.

Our heat cables are not only durable, but they are also UV-stable, energy-efficient, versatile, and self-regulating. With the help of our professionals, you can set up your heat cables once and for all. 

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